Giant Banner on Parliament Hill Urges President Obama to Stop Cigarette Smuggling from the U.S. to Canada



    OTTAWA, Feb. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - As President Obama arrives on Parliament
Hill today, he will be greeted by a giant, 21-metre long banner stating
"Please STOP cigarette smuggling from the U.S to Canada". The Canadian Council
for Tobacco Control (CCTC) is calling for effective action to end the massive
volume of smuggled cigarettes originating in the U.S. and entering Canada.
    The RCMP reports that cigarette smuggling from about 10 illegal,
unlicensed factories located on the U.S. side of the Akwesasne reserve near
Cornwall represents as much as 90% of cigarette contraband in Canada. This
contraband is having a very serious adverse impact on Canadian public health,
public revenue and public security.
    "We urge President Obama to take immediate action to shut down the
illegal factories which are openly in violation of U.S. federal law," says Bob
Walsh, CCTC Executive Director. "U.S. federal enforcement authorities are well
aware of the situation, but lack sufficient personnel in the area to take
action. The President must ensure that the necessary enforcement resources are
put in place."
    The RCMP reports that criminals who smuggle illegal cigarettes into
Canada often return to the U.S. with drugs, weapons and people. Cigarette
smuggling is an important border security issue that threatens the U.S., in
addition to Canada.
    "If vast quantities of smuggled cigarettes from Canada were flooding the
American market costing the U.S. federal government more than $10 billion
annually, the U.S. government would quickly insist that the Canadian
Government take action," adds Walsh. "We ask the same of the U.S. Government.
We urge that Prime Minister Harper raise this pressing issue with President
Obama."
    Cheap cigarettes - as low as $6 per carton of 200 cigarettes, compared to
the fully legal price of $50-$70 in Ontario and Quebec - are thwarting what
would be the beneficial impact of higher taxes at reducing smoking. Moreover,
widespread contraband is costing the federal government more than C$1 billion
in revenue annually. In December 2008, the Ontario Auditor General reported
that contraband costs the Ontario Government C$500 million annually in
revenue.
    On February 4, 2009, President Obama signed a child health insurance bill
that will be paid for by increasing U.S. federal taxes from US$3.90 per carton
of 200 cigarettes to US $10.01. "This record increase gives the U.S.
government a new motivation to shut down the factories," concludes Bob Walsh.
"Unless action is taken, it is inevitable that the illegal factories will
start sending illegal cigarettes throughout the U.S. instead of just to
Canada. President Obama can advance both U.S. and Canadian interests by taking
effective and immediate action."




For further information:

For further information: Bob Walsh, Executive Director, (613) 567-3050,
ext. 107

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Canadian Council for Tobacco Control (CCTC)

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